Liverpool claimed all 3 points in slightly controversial style as VAR got involved in a fixture that could have ended with any result (win, draw or defeat) for the home side at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp kept the squad pretty similar to it’s previous winning side as he made a single change with Naby Keita moving to the substitution bench as he was replaced by Adam Lallana.
The 1st half
Liverpool started well enough with early attacks that looked promising, setting the tone for the home crowd with displays of high quality football.
Just four minutes into the game and the pressure was already on for Wolves. Trent Alexander-Arnold was looking dangerous out wide as he swung in a sensational cross to the penalty area, but Salah could only fire the effort over the crossbar from close range.
At the 21st minute, Salah was to try his luck once more and although on target this time, a save was forced from Wolves as their goalkeeper Rui Patricio denied our Egyptian King. A long ball from Virgil van Dijk had picked out Mané at the top of the area. He nodded the ball across for Salah, who had power and accuracy on the shot, but it wasn’t able to make it past their last line of defence and into the net.
But VAR threw the end of the first half into the start of the controversy which was to come and be highly debated by the end of the game. Liverpool broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute as another wonderful long ball from Van Dijk was collected and then moved into the path of Mané by the shoulder of Lallana. The Senegalese international then swiftly put the ball into the net at the near post, but referee Antony Taylor blew his whistle and instantly ruled it out for handball. However, VAR was to be checked and after a lengthy review which looked at the handball Taylor had blown for, the goal was given to the indignation and frustration of the Wolves fans and players.
WAS THIS A FOUL? Honestly, Lallana looked like he had CHESTED the ball at first. During the play leading up to the referee blowing his whistle, most Liverpool fans were sure our player had chested the ball down to Mané. We were surprised to even hear a whistle blown, because chesting the ball is NOT a foul.
It was but a brief moment of play for Lallana as he tried to assist a teammate but that’s how it had looked before we got to check the video replay. Upon seeing video footage – YES, instead of his chest a shoulder may have come into contact with the ball. Shoulders aren’t really “handball” by the way. Arms and hands – BAD, you’ve committed a foul by using those. Shoulders- NOT bad, you can use those and still not be told that you’re breaking the rules. So, VAR was able to show that to Anthony Taylor and he declared the goal as scored, with no foul committed. Lallana had legitimately assisted his teammate who scored. Mané kept his goal, Liverpool led by 1-0.
This half wasn’t even over and more VAR drama was to come still.
At the 48TH minute (3 minutes into the extra time of the 1st half) Jonny flashed a cross into the penalty area from the right wing, which missed everyone inside a packed box of Liverpool defenders, before falling rather luckily to the unmarked Neto, who put the ball past Alisson and into net.
The referee would interrupt Wolves’ celebrations with an announcement to check VAR. Here come the frustration again for Wolves. POSSIBLE OFFSIDE!
Anthony Taylor would review the footage, then declare that part of the goalscorer had been offside in the buildup to scoring his goal. NO GOAL, LIVERPOOL KEEP THEIR LEAD at the end of the 1st half.
LET’S BE HONEST HERE – EVEN AT ANFIELD, VAR IS UNBIASED. IT HAS NO OPINION, it’s just video footage recorded and shown to the match official in replays to assist the referee in their decisions.
Liverpool have had at least 1 goal ruled out for offside via VAR in previous fixtures this season and even when Firmino’s ARMPIT had been judged to be offside! Yes, REALLY! A goal ruled out for that reason, even though he hadn’t scored with his armpit.
So we’re not only gaining from VAR – we’ve faced similar frustrations in this season just as Wolves had to endure this time around. No special treatment is given to Liverpool, the video footage is simply reviewed and VAR decisions can go FOR or AGAINST you. Sorry Wolves, but this decision went against you.
The 2nd half
Both team kept going with mostly equal play in a end-to-end game.
Wolves came close with a significant chance to equalise in the 68th minute. Some confusion at the back from Van Dijk allowed Diogo Jota through into the area, leaving Virgil surprised as he was beaten for once. The Wolves forward then powered a shot goalwards, but Alisson made a strong save to put the ball behind for a corner.
Liverpool could not increase their lead any further despite bringing substitute Divock Origi into play eventually and his notoriety for scoring late goals. The 1 goal would be enough to secure our victory at Anfield for the day, though.
A win is a win, 3 more points to add to the total in the Premier League table.
You can hopefully understand by now that this result had the potential to have possibly disallowed Liverpool’s goal and/or allowed Wolves goal. Wolves could have drawn 1-1 or even won 0-1, with some slightly different verdicts reached via VAR. But, it ended as it did with Liverpool as the winners. We may not hear the end of this from rival fans who won’t be happy still but it ended how it did and that final result will stand.
Man of the Match
If Van Dijk hadn’t of made an important error that almost allowed Wolves to score a late equaliser, I may have chosen Virgil for this. However, Trent has done plenty both at the back and up with the attackers, assisting them in their efforts to get goals. He looks flawless at times, which for such a young man is quite impressive. Veterans and former Liverpool Legends like Phil Thompson and Phil Neal will surely see something in Trent that they used to have in their prime also. Versatility. Courage and Determination. The Liverpool spirit that leads our team to success.
This was our last game of 2019, we move into 2020 with a home fixture against Sheffield United in the new year. I hope you have a Happy New Year, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
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